Generating energy from alternative resources more feasible than nuclear plants: speakers


Physicists, architects, engineers, economists and civil society activists on Sunday emphasized the need to adopt alternative energy sources like solar and wind instead of nuclear power plants for generation of electricity in Pakistan as it is not cheaper as claimed by the Atomic Energy Commission of Pakistan.

Instead of providing nuclear reactors, China should be asked to provide money for power generation through solar and wind, said the experts while speaking at a workshop on ‘proposed karachi nuclear power plants: preparing for the environmental impact assessment and public hearing’ jointly organised by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) at a local hotel.

“The citizens of Karachi should take part in a large number in the expected public hearing for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) by the government after the orders by Sindh High Court,” said Dr AH Nayyar, Professor of Physics at Quaid-e-AzamUniversityIslamabad. It is for the first time that an EIA and public hearing is being held for a nuclear power plant.

They stressed the need to sensitise the local communities especially fishermen about dangers of radiations which may be great threat to their lives.

Dr Nayyar said the present government was setting up two nuclear power plants, K2 and K3, along Karachi coast without acquiring the mandatory EIA report. The SHC order has asked the government to arrange a public hearing for the EIA. But for that the EIA document should be made available for the general public much before the actual hearing so they can study and understand.

He pointed out that some concerned citizens had gone to the court against the nuclear power plants and during the hearing, the PAEC had confessed that earlier it had done the EIA process in a “wrong way,” without following the legal process. It had acquired the EIA from Sindh Environmental Protection Agency without holding public hearing.

The government has recently hired a consultation firm for conducting EIA, which has already conducted a scoping meeting in this regard. “We need to have EIA according to international standards,” he added.

Dr Nayyar said the main concern for a nuclear power plant in the world is about storage and disposal of the spent fuel. In the EIA there should be a clear mention about the storage and disposal. Decommissioning of a nuclear power plant is quite difficult. “Decommissioning cost is almost equal to commissioning of a nuclear reactor. “

Ronald de Souza from Shehri – Citizens for Better Environment, shared his organisation’s experience about EIA of big projects in the past. He said mostly citizens do not take interest in the public hearing for any EIA. There is need to mobilise citizens to attend public hearing for EIA in a large numbers.

He pointed out that Pakistan Environmental Protection Act was enacted in 1997 and after 18th Amendment the Sindh Environmental Protection Act 2014 has been evolved, he added.

He quoted the 2006 report by World Bank, which indicated that there was ecological degradation in Pakistan by 6 percent, when at that time the economic growth was also at the rate of 6 percent. “Today Pakistan is actually walking backward because GDP growth is less than 4 per cent, but environmental degradation can be much high.” The cost of environment threats is not included in the nuclear power production cost.

Gap between rich and poor had increased because of environmental degradation, he said, adding that crimes, terrorism and social instability were increasing because of ecological disaster.

Karamat Ali, Executive Director of PILER, said as a citizen of Karachi they had many concerns about the nuclear reactors being set up along the coast. All the decisions for setting up of these nuclear power plants were not in made in a transparent manner.

Architect Arif Belgaumi explained the history of earthquakes around Karachi and said that 1945 earthquake with 8.1 on Richter scale happened about 250 to 350 km west of Karachi, but tsunami had affected Karachi as well.

Khurram Hussain, an economist spoke about the possible short- and long-term economic effects on Karachi and nationwide in case a severe nuclear reactor accident happens. He said after Fukushima nuclear disaster, there was a social divide in Japan.

He within a radius of five kilometers of the nuclear power plant, dense population was living and most of trading industrial areas are also located. Bulk of the furnace oil is handled at the port. Fahd Ali while speaking on “alternatives: non-nuclear options of electricity generation” said solar and wind power generation were being used world over.

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